Last year, instead of doing resolutions I wrote down decade-long goals. For the first time, I felt confident enough in my perception of reality and certain enough of the activities that give me the most energy, excitement, and flow, and critically, never get old, to commit to them:
💡 Build an ultra-high impact business
✍️ Write a NYTimes bestseller
🥋 Earn a Blackbelt in JuJitsu
🗽 Build a Thriving NYC Tribe
👨🍳 Earn a Michelin Star
Changing the time horizon from one year to a decade worked well for me. I had less anxiety, could flow more freely in between goals, and in this case, even let one goal completely go for 2020 (JuJitsu). I'll return to the dojo in 2021. No sweat. After all, I have a decade.
This lack of pressure seemed to allow for a greater sense of creative freedom and self-expression, and subsequently, more progress…
A side project became Compound, a now profitable business. A casual conversation resulted in the sale of my business RCVR. I wrote 300,000+ words. I built a neighborhood community in Brooklyn with small, safe dinners and events. I tried out roommates for the first time, ended up co-living with a chef, and learned to cook a dozen new dishes.
And it's all because of those 10-year-goals!! No, not really – I'm sure it's mostly coincidence and good fortune, but I do think the decade-long goal thing helped, like, a lot. All of these achievements were entirely unpredictable on a one-year time horizon but serendipitously aligned with my intent for the decade. Had I tied myself to more specific short-term goals, I may never have had these experiences.
This year, I have the same goals. They haven't changed. I've long thought that figuring out what to want is much harder than getting it. So keeping these same goals feels like a win in and of itself.
I then found myself on a very lonely New Years, without a fun personal development exercise! Surely, I must do something. Right? The entire collective consciousness is reflecting and planning and so forth, how might I tap into that energy too?
I've learned an important insight as an ADHD-ridden, procrastinating, depression-prone, never-once-been-employed entrepreneur...
Compelling narratives spark action.
I have to tell myself the most compelling story I possibly can at any given time in order to keep moving. Good stories get me out of bed in the morning, plain and simple.
Okay, so here's the grand reveal 🥁🥁🥁
My theme is Tribe Vibes.
Before you send me packing my bag back to Burning Man, hear me out.
An annual theme is a way to craft a cool story about the year. This is more fun than putting up a bunch of metrics on the whiteboard and proceeding to feel stressed out for months about achieving them. (Of course, "lose 15lb" is a story too! It’s just not a very compelling one... 😴)
One of the fundamental shifts I've had in my life is moving from serving myself, to serving others, to serving tribes. This was the year that I really grasped the innate power of close-knit network-dense communities.
All of my goals correspond directly with communities and tribes of which I naturally enjoy being a member:
✍️ Writing - Compound
🥋 JiuJitsu - Renzo Gracie Brooklyn
🗽 NYC - Weigbs (The Williamsburg Neighbors 🤫)
👨🍳 Culinary Arts- Family (mine is obsessed with food)
Serving these tribes is the most meaningful work I've done in my life and it's directly aligned with what I aspire to achieve in the next decade. I know if I surround myself with people who are doing the things I want to do, then I’ll do them too. This is way easier than trying to stick to a morning routine or pick up the latest life strategy hack from talking heads on Twitter.
I literally just hang out with my friends, who also happen to be on similar decade-long journeys that I am on, and who are all naturally incentivized to help each other in those adventures. The belonging I feel is enough, and the alignment with my goals is a welcomed cherry on top.
Serving Tribes is a lot more specific and actionable than the cliched "be in service to others," which I do buy into wholeheartedly but which always left me wondering, "Yeah, but I can't help everyone, so who should I help?"
There’s a distinct difference between serving customers, for example, and serving a community. When serving a tribe, everything you do for your people is multiplied by strengthening not just the individual, but the network they operate in. When I introduce two of my NYC founder friends to help solve a problem, I’m both helping address the issue and increasing the network density of the NYC Founder community.
Those two may go on to be friends, throw events, bring other people into the fold, work together, start a company that hires other people out of the community, etc.
The pandemic forced my transition from packed-out bars in the East Village and huge events in SoHo to small, intimate gatherings with small tribes. And online, I went from 1000 person growth hacks and FB Ads to a few homies in a few slack groups.
For this, I am immensely grateful. Over the course of 2020, I mastered the art of the small party, and I don't know that I'll ever throw a big one again.
On the other side of being more tribal, I found my mental health improved dramatically. There's good science to support it. “Community is immunity.”
Humans have evolved in small tribes for 100K+ years. Being surrounded by dense networks is right up there with food, water, and shelter in my book. (And moving into single-family homes in the suburbs was a societal-level blunder, but that's a story for another time.)
So, I'm doubling down on Tribe Vibes. It’s my annual theme, but hell it might end up being a decade-long narrative.
If you’re in one of these tribes, I hope you’ll join me. It’ll be a grand time.
We’re going to kick it with the homies, offline, online, and in-between, do everything we can to help them, and have faith that the rest will take care of itself.
Happy new year, from my tribe to yours,
Thanks to Charlie Bleecker, Fadeke Adegbuyi, Diana Hawk, Richie Bonilla, Stew Fortier, Steven Ovadia, Joel Christiansan, Drew Stegmaier, and Brendan Short, for reading early drafts of this piece (and basically, consulting me on my life ;)